On-line resources from the
American Studies Resources Centre at LJMU

Liverpool John Moores University

How well is American Studies doing in Britain today?

American Studies Today On-line

Courses with an American content are quite healthy at present, although a minority interest in many schools. Including an American angle does not seem to make much difference to either the stability or the autonomy of courses. These are some of the conclusions we drew from analysing a questionnaire sent out to our subscribers in Autumn 1998.

How well is American Studies doing in schools in Britain today? This is what we aimed to find out when we sent out our questionnaire with last year's American Studies Today. Of nearly 500 questionnaires sent out, 47 were returned. This is a response rate of 9.4%, certainly an improvement on our last survey, on the use of IT in American Studies, when only 17 were returned.

Fig 1 - American Orientation of Content

We asked a range of questions, including how many of you actually taught on courses which were either specifically American orientated or which included an American content. As you can see from Fig 1, most of you (81%) had an American content, but less than half (38%) were teaching on specifically American Studies courses. Even for those with an American content, it is a minority interest in many schools, as of the 38 respondents who did have an American content, just over half were entering more that 26 students for exams. (See fig 2)

Fig 2 - Students entered for exams in courses with an American contentI

n terms of level, the vast majority of you were teaching on A level courses, with about 1/4 teaching GCSE. Six respondents from Scotland were teaching Highers. (See fig 3.) The most popular subject areas were History with 29 responses and Politics with 23.

Fig 3 - Exam and course levelSurprisingly, in view of the popularity of American texts with English literature teachers, only 5 respondents were teaching Literature, one less than those who were teaching film or media studies. (See fig 4.)

Fig 4 - Subject area

How secure are the courses you teach on, and does having an American content make any difference? Overall, 72% of you felt that your courses were stable. Of those who taught an American content, this figure was 74%. Do you have any say in the content of your course? Three quarters of all respondents said they did, and this figure was exactly the same for those teaching on courses with an American content. So, including an American slant does not seem to make much difference to either the stability or the autonomy of your course. (See fig 5.)

Fig 5 - Situation of course

Overall, although only a minority of respondents were teaching specifically American oriented courses, the future for courses with an American content seems to be reasonably healthy.

What are the specific problems and issues facing teachers of American Studies? You might like to read of one teacher's experiences in Kathryn Cooper's excellent article.

Click here to see the full text of the Questionnaire

American Studies Today Online is published by

American Studies Resources Centre, Aldham Robarts Library, Liverpool John Moores University, Maryland Street, Liverpool L1 9DE, United Kingdom

Tel 0151-231 3241

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The views expressed are those of the contributors, and not necessarily those of the Centre, the College or the University.

© 1998, City of Liverpool College, Liverpool John Moores University and the Contributors.

Articles in this journal may be freely reproduced for use in subscribing institutions only, provided that the source is acknowledged.

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